- It was a really hard day. Just when we were in the back for a natural break, there was a crash in the pack and we had to run through Flanders Fields to get back on the road to chase the first peloton. The team worked really hard to get me back to the front, especially Magnus Cort was really strong. But after we got back in the group with Sagan, I didn’t had the power to stay in the front and sprint for a top 10 classification. So I’m a bit disappointed, but Sunday there’s another day and for sure we are ready, - told Michael Valgren.
In a cold Harelbeke, Belgium, the peloton took off for a 206-kilometer-long classic race, including multiple climbs and cobblestones sectors. Right from the start, Truls Korsaeth took off with 7 other riders for today’s breakaway, the second time in 3 Belgium races so far. This group had a maximum advantage of +/- 7 minutes. But then there was the huge crash in the peloton, right at the moment the peloton started to speed things up.
The whole Astana Pro Team (except Korsaeth) was behind the crash, and Oscar Gatto and Alexey Lutsenko were both involved, without serious injuries. From that point the team started to chase the first peloton. But with a flat tyre for Laurens de Vreese and the strong riders in the first peloton, the gap was +/- 1 minute for a long time. After a lot of effort, Michael Valgren and Magnus Cort managed to make it into the third group of the race, as a group with the favorites were already in the front.
In the final, Niki Terpstra managed to stay in front of the group of 11 riders with Greg van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert, the top 3 of today’s race. Just behind this group it was a small group with Michael Valgren finishing behind Michael Matthews on a 14th place.
- It was not our day today, as the team had to work really hard after the crash, so a lot of energy was already spilled before the final. It looked good in the first part, as it was part of our plan to have Truls Korsaeth in the breakaway. It was a big effort of our team after the crash, but at the end it was not enough for a top 10 classification, - said sports director, Lars Michaelsen.
Photo credit: Bettiniphoto